If you have finished watching the film Enchanted (2007) and are looking for other movies like it, here is a list of options to consider.
The Broadway adaptation defangs its best characters in a misguided effort to appeal to a new generation of viewers.
Paramount’s new version of Tina Fey’s cult classic Mean Girls boasts a tagline many Millennials found downright offensive upon debut: “This ain’t your mother’s Mean Girls!” The movie, based on the Broadway musical adapted from the original 2004 film, makes it abundantly clear that it’s aimed directly at Gen Z from its very opening moments, which look like a vertical phone video straight out of TikTok. Fey, the writer of both versions of Mean Girls, hasn’t been without her fair share of controversies over the twenty years since the first film premiered. In a clear effort to avoid upsetting younger audience members who have grown up with more sensitive media, Fey kneecaps many of her own best jokes. The updated script is a wobbly attempt to satisfy fans of the original without offending newcomers. The set-ups where there used to be jokes still remain, but they’re empty husks strung together by mostly forgettable songs. Though not without its unique charms, the musical Mean Girls is glaringly unfunny.
The music, written by Fey’s husband and frequent creative collaborator Jeff Richmond, does little to make up for the chasms where cutting punchlines have been removed. Richmond can write excellent, hilarious songs like the ones in 30 Rock and Girls5eva, but his compositions here are basic and feel uninspired. Most of the sincere songs revolve around bland messages about self-esteem that lack any insight into the actual emotional experiences of teenage girls. Emo outcast Janis ‘Imi’ike (Auli’i Cravalho, Moana), formerly a supporting character, gets what feels like four separate songs about the power of Being Yourself. Only “Sexy,” a playful number about Halloween costumes performed by ditzy beauty Karen Shetty (Avantika), stands out. Continue Reading →
Kids deserve better than yet another dull, going-through-the-motions misfire.
The animation world was recently startled by Warner Bros.' announcement that they planned to shelve their recently completed feature Coyote vs Acme for a quick tax write-off, rather than spend money to release it. Not to be outdone, Disney Studios offers up Wish, an animated feature that is the kind of artistic misfire that deserves to be hidden away and never spoken about again. This is a creation so alternately bewildering and banal that it's implausible that at no point during the entire creative process did anyone point out the seemingly obvious fact that virtually none of it works on even the most basic levels.
Wish takes place in the kingdom of Rosas, which was founded and is currently ruled by Magnifico (Chris Pine), a seemingly benevolent sorcerer who offers peace and protection for all those who live there. The catch is that they must surrender their deepest wish to Magnifico, who stores them in the lab in his castle in bubbles and once in a great while returns one to the person who made it. Inexplicably, the people of Rosas think this is a good deal, none more so than Asha (Ariana DeBose), a teenager who is all in on both Rosas and Magnifico and is hoping that the latter will present her beloved grandfather (Victor Argo) with his wish to commemorate his upcoming 100th birthday. Continue Reading →
The Trolls movies continue to indulge in their best and worst impulses in a third installment.
The poster for this past summer's R-rated comedy No Hard Feelings had a reasonably clever tagline to explain the strained dynamic between the film's two leads. Against an image of Jennifer Lawrence squeezing Andrew Barth Feldman's cheeks, a single word is placed on top of each person's face: "Pretty" and "Awkward." Nothing revolutionary in design, but it gets the job done. Best of all, that tagline also makes for an apt descriptor for Trolls Band Together.
The third entry in the Trolls trilogy (based on the popular 80s dolls), Trolls Band Together does indeed live up to the phrase “Pretty. Awkward.” The animators at DreamWorks keep coming up with gorgeous-looking environments for the titular critters to inhabit that look like they emerged from the wreckage of a craft store explosion. Unfortunately, the writing remains as stilted as ever. Continue Reading →
Dicks: The Musical
The audaciously titled Dicks: The Musical comes with an equally eye-catching tagline, boasting the honor of being “A24’s first musical.” That’s bound to intrigue cinephiles everywhere. After all, not every movie studio is trendy enough to regularly sell out of logo festooned merchandise. Or even make hipster merch in the first place. Continue Reading →
Flora and Son
About 75 minutes into Flora and Son, its script veers toward the self-reflexive. “What movie are you in?” Flora (Eve Hewson) snaps. “One without you in it,” her son, Max (Orén Kinlan), replies. This sort of exchange fits holistically into writer-director John Carney’s latest. It’s self-aware, sure, but it’s not meta. Like most of the film’s writing, it is entirely transparent in its machinations, going so far as to declare them at points. Supporting characters largely function as symbols rather than people. Continue Reading →
Breakfast at Tiffany's
John Carney's new drama is just one of a diverse collection of features at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the works being covered here wouldn't exist.
Irish filmmaker John Carney made his big breakthrough in 2007 with Once, a film focused on the redemptive power of music and its ability to bring people, whether they are strangers or family, together in the pursuit of creating something that allows them to give voice to their once-buried hopes and desires. This was followed by Begin Again (2013), a film focused on the redemptive power of music and its ability to bring people, whether they are strangers or family, together in the pursuit of creating something that allows them to give voice to their once-buried hopes and desires. After that came Sing Street (2016), a film focused on the redemptive power of music and its ability to bring people, whether they are strangers or family, together in the pursuit of creating something that allows them to give voice to their once-buried hopes and desires. Continue Reading →
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
Despite their hue, not all TMNT films deserved to be greenlit.
Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back in 1984. Now almost 40 years later, what started as a comic book has inspired seven movies, five television series, and countless amounts of merchandise. This week the four ninja tortoises return in a new animated incarnation, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. Considering I’ve been a fan of the Turtles since six years old, this seems like the perfect time to put an official rating on four decades of movies. Some are gnarly, some tubular, and there’s always a whole lot of cowabunga.
Writers Note: This list doesn’t include the recent Netflix installment Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie, a TV-movie crossover Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or the live recording of the 1990 Coming Out of Their Shells stage show. That one you can catch on YouTube, although I don’t know why you would. Continue Reading →
Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken
It’s not easy being a teenager. It’s especially not easy being a teenager like the titular protagonist of Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken. As that title would suggest, Ruby Gillman (Lana Condor) is a Kraken living in a seaside town with her family. Her parents and younger brother seem to have no trouble assimilating to the broader world, while Ruby struggles. All she wants is to blend in as a normal human-- albeit one with blue skin and no spine. However, to be an average teen, she’ll likely have to break some of her mom’s strict rules, namely, never going near the ocean. Continue Reading →